VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Giving adoptable dogs a taste of the good life. That's what the Virginia Beach SPCA's Beach Buddies program is all about.
The Beach Buddies program allows folks to take out adoptable dogs for a couple of hours and return them to the shelter at the end of the day. Whether it's going on a walk, snuggling up on the couch, or snagging a Starbucks Puppachino, the program gives dogs a much-needed break from stressful shelter life.
To get the full experience, the SPCA partnered me with Clementine, a 6-year-old pit bull mix.
On our Beach Buddy date, Clementine and I went for a walk and enjoyed the fresh air along Red Wing Park. We ended the day with, you guessed it, a Starbucks Puppachino.
By the time we got back to the shelter, Clementine was all tuckered out and happily returned to her kennel to relax.
Only one year since the program's inception, workers with the SPCA said they've seen great success.
"Beach Buddies is a great way for our dogs to just get out and be a dog," said Mandi Kowaleski, the communications and marketing manager at the VBSPCA. "The perk of Beach Buddies is that maybe they can't have a pet where they're living, or it's just not a good time in their lifestyle for them to have a dog. So, this gives them that benefit of animal interaction.”
Not only does the program relieve dogs of stress, but it also helps the volunteers pair them with potential owners.
"As much time as we do spend with our animals, they can show more of their personality out of the shelter environment," Kowaleski said.
At the end of the playdate, each buddy fills out a report card on the dog. This helps the SPCA better match them to their forever family.
Nearly two weeks after our playdate, Kowaleski said Clementine was taken on another Beach Buddy date, and good news! She was adopted!